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The Story of Little Blankie

Many of you will remember Roger. Doris dog’s fiancé for a while before he disgraced himself. Anyone remember the picture ‘Roger, Father of Many’? Well, the title explains the problem, for Roger was in fact a working stud dog. An EXTREMELY handsome, smooth haired Dachshund. A real head turner. To call him ‘one for the ladies’ would be an understatement. Not that he was a rascal as such, it was just his job. And there was a dog that knew his business.

But times change, and dogs they get older even when we feel we haven’t aged much ourselves. Roger, with his confident smile and his charmed life of luxury without responsibility, was no exception. To cut a long story short, once he’d outlived his ‘usefulness’, the unscrupulous breeders threw him out on the street. An all-too-common occurrence. But this was a dog who had lived an unusually cosseted life. Hand fed the finest minced steak and poached salmon, favouring a well know brand of bottled sparkling water and receiving a weekly mani/pedi. This was not a streetwise dog.

As a young pup Roger had been overly shy and sensitive. Never the first one out of the box, and his mother’s favourite. How he howled when he was adopted too young – first out of the litter – and taken to live on the Stud Farm. His remarkable good looks and conformation to standard were apparent even from an early age and he fetched a very good price.

At first his new owners treated him well, looking after their investment. He instantly bonded with Nanny the house dog at the Farm so he settled in well and quickly grew in confidence as he was showered with every gift money could buy. Within the year he had grown into a fine looking hound, just as expected. But he also became proud, selfish, badly behaved and snappy as no-one bothered to teach him any different.  As he matured, he quarrelled with Nanny and his insecurities led him to compete so fiercely with the other stud dogs that he had to be kept apart. A nice cosy pen where he was provided with adequate exercise, gourmet meals and increasingly regular visits from pretty females.

On the whole he was happy with his lot but some nights if he awoke from an uneasy sleep, the warm sheepskin blanket would remind him of Nanny the house dog (or worse his dear late mother) and he felt achingly sad. But each morning the efficient staff would bring him delicious scrambled eggs nice and early for breakfast, and his day would begin. And O they were busy days. When he thought of how far he’d come in his short life he did marvel at it. But he was lonely, and sometimes wished he hadn’t been born so devastatingly handsome and utterly adorable. 

But then one day he was pulled up short. For some unknowable reason he found himself abandoned on the wild and dangerous streets of the Brighton Hove border. With no useful knowledge nor any social skills to speak of he soon grew thin, ill, withdrawn, depressed. But what he did have is plenty of company. There were so many homeless people, many of whom found themselves in a much worse state than himself. They had tried to catch him early on but he found his hidey holes. The urban foxes and marauding seagulls were terrifying also and for many months he lived under the prostrate cotoneaster bushes close to the amply filled bins at the back of St Ann’s Well Park Café. And it was perhaps his regular meetings there with the good-hearted Doris dog (after she’d finally gotten around to forgiving him for how he’d led her astray) that encouraged him to trust again and finally find the right kind of human and let himself be adopted.

By this time he had lost many of his teeth so the famous smile was not so perfect, but the kind lady who lived on the square didn’t seem to mind. Her name was Daphne and she had so many old dogs that ‘one more would make no difference’. At first she pushed him around in a large pram lined with old blankets, and when he buried himself deep and refused to walk in the cold, she decided to call him Little Blankie. With her long bleached out hair and kind eyes Roger thought she looked like Brigitte Bardot in her older years. He fell in love with her instantly.

His new life as Little Blankie could not have been more different. Every night he slept under an old patchwork eiderdown with Daphne and the rest of her kids. He ate whatever was going from the large tin bowls lined up on the kitchen floor in rows. He was no longer prized only for his good looks. In fact he was never picked out or treated any differently than the rest of the dogs and that was nice for the most part.

It was okay to sometimes miss the heady days of his youth at Alpha Dream Kennels and Stud Farm, he told himself. He’d had some wild times as Roger, ‘Kings Blood Skyrocket Red Baron de la Mer’ to be sure. But here with Daphne he was never left alone. He had friends and they always looked forward to the stories of his glamorous former life when he was the veritable King of the Castle. And what tall tales he told.

Whether you’d like to call him Roger or Little Blankie, I sculpted him out of clay, had him cast in bronze and now he is being editioned by the very good people of Sculpture Castings, Basingstoke. I have carefully worked on each wax prior to casting which makes each Blankie unique. He has a wonderful patina of lightly waxed russets which reflects his faded grandeur. I visited last week and fell in love once again. He truly is a little darling and I will be showing him on social media when I receive my first copy.

We will have a limited number (from the edition of 47) available before Christmas at my late November show at This little man would be a perfect companion piece to my Pocket Doris bronze edition (now totally sold out), but equally he can stand alone. He will sit quietly in your hand or pocket, and would give your bedside cabinet or mantle shelf an aura of mischievous charm. You could even knit him a little blanket.

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Lovely Things Happen

A lovely thing happened to me the other day.

I popped into a coffee shop before my weekend dog walk and ordered two cappuccinos (it was going to be a long walk)… and then I realised I’d left my purse at home. Do I leg it home (quite a distance) and get my money, or do I do without my morning coffee(s)? Both options would be quite disappointing, let’s face it. Also, I’m not very good at making decisions. So I just stood there in my waterproofs and walking boots waiting for inspiration with my very patient pup by my side. And then the Barista said, I’ll make your coffees for free! Generous, lovely, surprising and it gave me such a boost, restoring my attitude of gratitude at the end of what had been quite a difficult week. Small things matter. And I hope you are lucky enough to have a Lovely Thing happening to you when you most need it. As a good friend told me when I was sharing my woes and wondering what, if anything, was the point of life in general and me in particular, “Perhaps there is no real point,” she said, “except for the opportunity to be kind.”

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It Isn’t Always Easy, Is It?

It isn’t always easy, is it?

I’ve always admired the easy breeziness of greengrocers. And I know no-one is without their troubles but some people manage to rise above it all and bring a little unlooked for happiness into people’s lives whatever’s going on in their own. Market traders, corner shop owners, delivery staff, they seem to have this straightforward way of serving with a smile and moving on. I remember getting to know a restaurant owner in Greece one year and feeling bold enough to ask how he kept his sparkle even at the end of a long day. After a moment’s thought he said maybe he had been lucky enough to be born with a sunny disposition? In fact he knew of no other way to be and was delighted to find himself the right occupation suiting his natural abilities. But wouldn’t it be nice to be able to do MORE than the thing we were born to do? Is that even possible?

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An Exhibition for Summer

Hello friends,

I hope this email finds you well?

It’s a strange old time we’ve been having, many still suffering or recovering from the ravages of the pandemic and just a lucky few of us feeling that things are ‘back to normal’… but these times leave their mark even for us fortunate ones don’t they? For better or for worse I don’t think anything will be the way it was before. And if you’re like me, now more than ever there’s a pressing need to focus on the good things life has to offer. To be real, true, authentic but also optimistic, hopeful and to appreciate the little joys.

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The Merry Month Of June

It’s the right weather isn’t it?

It’s something someone said to me n Betty as we were walking across the golf course up at Hollingbury on a sunny day recently.

Truth is, I DON’T like it too hot personally, but I LOVE that it makes so many people happy and chatty. For me a sunny day always seems like an extra thing to do. I know I should get out and enjoy myself, but a colder day just let’s me BE… And then I got to thinking, he’s right that man on the golf course. It’s actually always the right weather! When the sun is too warm it’s a welcome reminder for me to be resourceful. When nothing is uncomfortable, there is no incentive to change.

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A Horse Ate My Bag

I must admit I’m a little scared of horses. Because I don’t understand them and they are so big. And generally I’m a little afraid of children because I don’t understand them and they’re so little. To me dogs have always seemed more straightforward. But back to this bag eating horse.

A couple of weeks ago on one of my intrepid weekend walks, I found myself needing to cross a field where there were three horses. It was a public footpath and I put my dogs on their leads, but when I looked up I noticed they’d already started ambling towards us. They looked friendly enough but very big, and it soon became obvious they would reach us before we got to the stile. Instead of running (which my brain was screaming at me to do) I slowed right down and worked on calming the dogs and myself. I had no apples or carrots. Eeek.

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We’ll Know Where We’re Going When We Get There

Hallo lovelies,

It’s nearly May already!

Such a lovely month for a holiday I always think. It feels fresh, not too warm and still the opportunity to be wearing hats and scarves. Which will always be my favourite attire. But if you haven’t got it together to book that little trip you’ve been dreaming about, I hope you’ll be joining me and Team Mustard at our Afternoon Tea Event Sunday 15th May.

For me May is all about the different yellows. There are still daffodils in the supermarkets although the woods are full of bluebells, and I do so love a cut flower. The ranunculus are splendid at this time of year too and I always keep mine until way past their best. After all their blazing colours I can’t bear to throw them away. And every time I think I must have had the last, I find another bunch of yellow tulips to display in my old silver-glass vase. And whenever I can, I feel I must have a sprig of yellow freesia for by my bed, so if I wake up in the night wondering where I am (it’s a thing!) I am calmed by their peppery scent: my Grandad’s favourite. The yellow calla lily I’m keeping inside as long as I can. And when it goes outside I think I’ll do a big display of fat lemons instead.

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Hello From the Woods

Since I’ve been here I’ve lost two hats. And one dog.

I found the dog.

And upsetting though it is to mislay my very favourite berets, this heartache is truly tiny in comparison with the temporary loss of my dear old Stan. The Theory of Relativity in action. But I’m hoping that the next time my (snackhungry and selectively deaf) little Doodle Dog decides to do a bit of sneaky unaccompanied sandwich surfing I’ll choose to poke myself in the eye to help me feel Relatively better, rather than rushing hither and thither discarding fistfuls of head gear with such high sentimental value. My poor heart aches at the thought of the handmade velvet one with the satin lining and a blob of white paint on the back… And the burgundy striped knitted one with a tiny turquoise stalk going a bit bobbly with age… Is it so wrong to miss them so much?

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Snowdrops for Grandpa Ray

I’ve just finished reading The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman and I feel much better thank you. It was an easy and compelling read, which is good as I don’t have the hugest concentration span. I found it inspiring, grounding and comforting at a time when I’ve felt lost and adrift. And I was delighted to find that there were so many extra gifts in the acknowledgements, where the writer shares how hard it is to write a novel and how many people helped him knowingly or unknowingly along the way. I absolutely love my job but I find it hard to do what I do. It’s sometimes so hard that I need to find new ways of doing it. And at times like these I really am grateful for all the love that surrounds me. The kindness, help, support and good fortune that snuggles me up like a favourite blanket.

So, there are changes afoot. And Oooooh I don’t like changes! There’s so much comfort in the familiar, and shaking things up makes me feel quite wobbly. But I really do need this and if I had a superpower I think it would be my way of finding different ways of doing the same thing… 

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A Seasonal Greeting from Me to You

It’s nearly Christmas again. These are strange times and sometimes it can be hard. I am always glad to hear when my work brings a smile (or a few tears when they are needed). We are all coping in our own ways, being as brave and hopeful as we can. One thing is certain: we are all in this together. And my main reflection on another strange year is how kind people can be. The people who really matter. You know the ones.

I am sorry this is not as bubbly a missive as is my custom. Like many other families, ours has had a sad bereavement.

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